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The birth of IFTTT ten years ago has significantly improved the interoperability of all Internet products and has become an indispensable tool for productivity professionals. Is there a need for such a super tool in the blockchain system?
Written by: Pan Zhixiong, Research Director of Link News
Blockchain technology began to gradually integrate into the systems of the traditional world, gradually exerting its “trust-free” advantages. The “interoperability” of the interaction between the blockchain and these systems largely depends on whether the underlying protocol of the blockchain has sufficient “compatibility”. For example, for Bitcoin that does not support smart contracts, Ethereum or other blockchain protocols can only be one-way compatible with the Bitcoin protocol, while the Bitcoin protocol is not compatible with other blockchains, and perhaps it is not necessary.
But not all projects can become Bitcoin. For other public chain projects, can they obtain sufficient interoperability after providing Turing’s complete general computing power? It may not be necessarily, and the compatibility cost may be high. On this issue, Nervos believes that the “interoperability 2.0” they are exploring is one step closer, taking infrastructure reuse as a core breakthrough.
A very simple example, for most cryptocurrency industry users, MetaMask or other wallet entry is an almost essential tool. If other public chains or applications require users to download a new wallet tool, not only will the experience be worse, but the security has not been fully verified. But Nervos’ “Interoperability 2.0” can reuse the MetaMask infrastructure as the wallet entry of the chain.
To take a broader example, for most Internet users, email is an essential tool. And Nervos’s flexible cryptographic primitive support can directly reuse this set of decades-tested infrastructure. This may open up more usage scenarios and make it easier for more Internet users to use cryptocurrency.
Therefore, compared with the decentralized financial applications that the Ethereum community is exploring, Nervos has chosen a different path. Instead of focusing on opening up new types of specific application scenarios on a large scale, Nervos uses its own underlying technology to access existing ones. The tools and portals put the focus on interoperability.
Why is interoperability important?
Simply put, interoperability reflects the compatibility and cost of compatibility between two systems. For systems with strong compatibility, it is easier to connect to other systems and open more application scenarios.
From a professional point of view, interoperability can be translated as “collaborative work capability” or “interoperability”. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) defines interoperability as follows: two or more The ability to exchange information between systems or components and to use the information that has been exchanged.
There is a popular productivity tool called IFTTT, which is a product that can significantly improve interoperability and glues many Internet services together. The full name of IFTTT is “If this then that” (if something happens, perform another thing), this tool is like a glue, which integrates almost all platform-style service providers in it, reducing The cost of users actively accessing different services.
IFTTT can help users set up linkages in many services such as mailboxes, RSS information sources, chat tools (such as Slack), smart home appliances, Twitter, etc., in any combination, to create users’ own special usage scenarios. For example, you can set that when a specific result is searched on Twitter, the content will be sent to the mailbox. There is actually a lot of room for play and imagination.
However, if a certain platform does not have an open API (application programming interface) and does not provide the possibility of interoperability, then IFTTT cannot be accessed and cannot be linked and collaborated with other platforms. For example, WeChat is a relatively closed space, and IFTTT’s support for WeChat is relatively poor.
The same applies to the above cases in the blockchain system. Many tools may reduce the cost of interoperability between different blockchain systems, and may also bridge the gap between the blockchain system and the traditional Internet system. However, if the underlying blockchain is not prepared in advance, no corresponding The development and use costs of these tools may be very high, or interoperability may not be obtained.
Therefore, if a blockchain system with sufficient interoperability is reserved in advance, it is possible to access other systems later, or to access other systems at a lower cost to explore more application scenarios.
Not only cross-chain, but also more application scenarios
Some people may think that cross-chain is the only way for blockchain systems to realize interoperability, but in fact it is far more than that. Judging from the current exploration direction of Nervos, at least it also includes the rich scalability brought by the flexible support of cryptographic primitives, and the ability to migrate applications.
For example, on Ethereum, the public and private key encryption algorithm it uses is ECDSA based on the elliptic curve secp256k1. For other public chains that do not use this curve or encryption algorithm, it is impossible to use the public and private key system of Ethereum. The established application ecosystem (such as MetaMask).
However, the flexible cryptographic primitive support provided by Nervos can be compatible with Ethereum’s standards through the development of later applications (PW Core), and access to the application ecosystem of Ethereum. At present, the Portal Wallet team of Nervos ecology is trying these directions. They can already send and receive assets on the Nervos chain through the Ethereum address that users have previously owned. This can be achieved based on the MetaMask that most people already own, without downloading or learning new ones. s things.
The Portal Wallet team stated, “The advantage of CKB lies in cryptography. It can customize any cryptographic algorithm, so it can read the hash or signature algorithm of other chains. It is difficult for others to do this.” So whether it is Polkadot, NEAR and other public chains, Portal Wallet can all be compatible with the address of another blockchain based on the above advantages to achieve infrastructure reuse.
The Nervos team has also created an exemplary DEX test version called Gliaswap, which is based on Nervos’s Layer 2 network implementation. To use this protocol, users do not need a CKB exclusive wallet or create a CBK account. They only need to use the currently commonly used Ethereum wallet or wave The wallet can be accessed.
On the other hand, the function Nervos calls Polyjuice is compatible with smart contracts of other chains, that is, virtual machines running on the chain, which will reduce the cost of application migration for developers. Polyjuice will give priority to support from Ethereum, and then support virtual machines on other chains.
Regarding the performance of running on the chain, the Portal Wallet team said, “If another chain wants to add a virtual machine, it will require a very big change. Since CKB VM is a CPU-level abstraction, when he runs EVM on it, it is very Smooth, in his opinion EVM should be an application layer thing.”
Of course, cross-chain is definitely a basic capability. Nervos’s solution is Force Bridge, which uses “two-way” SPV (Simple Payment Verification) technology, that is, the light nodes of the other chain are built on both chains to verify each other. Block header to realize asset cross-chain.
Even the most important infrastructure for accessing the Internet: mail
In fact, the Internet itself has many infrastructures that use cryptography. Based on the advantages of “Interoperability 2.0”, it may become the entry point for Nervos to access the traditional Internet.
The first email sent in China
For example, the Internet infrastructure “mailbox” has now widely used the Domain Key Identification Mail (DKIM) mechanism, which provides digital signature and identity verification functions to detect whether the sender, subject, text, attachments, etc. have been Counterfeiting or tampering.
DKIM is an agreement derived from the merger and improvement of two similar systems of Yahoo and Cisco in 2004. It became an official standard of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) in May 2007 and was approved by major email service providers such as Yahoo and Gmail. stand by.
Based on DKIM’s cryptographic signature algorithm, Portal Wallet’s proof of concept has realized the transfer of CKB assets by sending emails, and at the same time, it can ensure that the process is safe, cannot be tampered with, and does not require permission. After all, the advantage of DKIM itself is that it allows the sender to effectively identify the sender, so that the recipient can use the public key to confirm that the sender is not fake and the content has not been tampered with, which improves the credibility of the email.
From the official DKIM document
Furthermore, email is an important basic protocol in the development of the Internet. Many applications and other protocols can be implemented based on email, such as online marketing, Newsletter (newsletter), calendar invitation management, as an information source aggregation, and so on.
If you add the IFTTT just mentioned, you can achieve more interactions with other protocols and increase the interoperability of more applications. For example, when a user receives an email for receiving CKB assets, he can set to trigger another task: check the wallet balance, push or forward the email again to send the assets to others, etc.
Nervos hidden behind
Another feeling is that when Nervos is advancing the progress of interoperability, it puts itself at a lower level without deliberately emphasizing that it is a blockchain network, but as the settlement layer, computing layer and other projects of front-end services. It can be used to build a connection with the traditional Internet in a permissionless and decentralized way.
Portal Wallet also expressed this view. They believe that “Nervos’s approach is ubiquitous and ubiquitous. So its positioning is to be a Hub (hub), all assets can be crossed over for settlement. , Users can directly use this service.”
Maybe in the future, when the blockchain can be fully integrated into and completely change the Internet facilities, it will be the same as everyone’s view of the HTTP or TCP/IP protocol. Many people may not know what it does, but it is a kind of irreversible Open and everywhere low-level protocol.